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You are on page 1of 11

Now that you have a clear picture of why you need to study research methodology, and how

industrial psychologists do research, we would like to introduce you to the language of

statistics.

We shall introduce you to

x

x

x

the classification of statistical techniques

important concepts that are basic to any statistical analysis of data

Quantitative methods

As you will have gathered from the discussion so far, you will be working with numbers in this

module. It is possible to describe any information or data in the form of numbers. The

following is a simple example of this: If we were to ask all the applicants for New Stars how

confident they felt that they would be selected as one of the 10 finalists, we could have asked

them to rate their feelings on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 would mean I feel that I have no

chance at all, 5 would mean I feel I have a 50/50 chance and 10 would mean I feel that I

will definitely be selected.

When one translates data into numbers, like we have done in the example above, then one is

quantifying the information. Quantitative methods are about expressing data in the form of

numbers. What is the value of this? Why is it useful to translate data into numbers? First of

all, numbers are a part of our everyday life.

Think about the rates that you are charged for using your cellphone and how much money

you need to get through the month. When next you go shopping, think of how highly

quantified shops activities are. Think about the money that you pay for an item, the amount

of profit the shop makes on it, payments that have to be made for tax, shop rental and

salaries, to mention just a few items. On this basis we can make the assumption that

quantification and quantitative thinking are inescapable in everyday life.

43

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

The use of quantitative methods has specific advantages. Quantitative methods are

especially useful to us because they

x

x

x

allow for the re-modelling of real-world phenomena

are part of a well-designed and powerful disciplinary language

2.1

Based on the above discussion on quantitative research methods, give one example of your

own to illustrate each of the three advantages of quantitative methods mentioned above.

1.

...........................................................................................................................................

2.

...........................................................................................................................................

3.

...........................................................................................................................................

In this learning unit, we start with the first chapter of Tredoux and Durrheim (2013). Compare

your examples to the following three examples which are described in detail on pages 3 to 7

of Tredoux and Durrheim (2013) in the section The advantages of quantitative methods.

1.

2.

3.

Efficiency: to communicate numbers, for example the South African national census.

Approximation/modelling: to study phenomena in the world, for example a spatial model

for understanding human similarity judgements in regard to faces.

A powerful language: for example, a weather forecast map.

Quantification can support two general types of function. It can serve an infrastructural or

administrative function and it aids arguments and reasoning. In the social sciences we are

particularly interested in using the evidence that quantitative methods make available to

support our arguments. We tend to use probabilistic methods, rather than the deterministic

methods of some sciences.

2.2

Read the discussion on the functions of quantification on pages 3 to 7 in Tredoux and

Durrheim (2013). Give your own example of a claim or proposition that is deterministic, and

one which is probabilistic.

1.

..........................................................................................................................................

2.

..........................................................................................................................................

44

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

1.

authoritarian personality.

Be sure to test the deterministic claim for a necessity or sufficiency condition. In other

words, the claim must be that the presence of A necessarily leads to B.

2.

A probabilistic claim, on the other hand, should allow for the possibility that the

presence of A might not lead to B and, whether or not it leads to B, can be explained on

the basis of chance expectation. Thus, the claim that exposure to carcinogens in

cigarette smoke leads to cancer is not that such exposure will definitely lead to cancer,

but that it will lead to cancer in more cases than we would expect in the case of nonexposure.

Statistical methods and techniques can be classified into the following broad categories:

Descriptive statistics a technique for organising, summarising and describing data. This is

the descriptive research approach described in learning unit 1.

Inferential statistics a technique applied to samples in order to make inferences about

populations. This is also known as the experimental research approach, which is discussed in

learning unit 1.

Basic concepts

Before you launch into the study of descriptive and inferential statistics in earnest, you must

have a clear grasp of some important concepts that are basic to any statistical analysis of

data. These include terms like the following:

x

x

x

measurement scales

samples, populations, statistics and parameters

Variables

This is your first step in the use of a quantitative language and it entails converting objects or

entities into symbols and concepts of the language. The most basic concept is a variable. In

research, the features or characteristics that we are studying are called variables. For

example, when we measure length we talk about length as a variable and the symbol for it is

X. Temperature and weight are also examples of variables.

45

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

Let us look at an example of a variable in our New Stars show. The show has been launched

officially through a widespread media campaign, inviting entries from the public. Thousands

of entries have been received. Are you also curious to know who has entered? Would you

have liked to enter? We can assume that not everyone likes the limelight, or would like to

work in the entertainment industry. It might be interesting to know the main personality traits

that our entrants possess. These personality traits are an example of a variable that can be

investigated.

Taylor and Meyer (2009) found that would-be reality show contestants exhibit some of the

following personality traits:

x

x

x

x

x

They are flexible and open to change, but also impulsive and fail to think through the

consequences of their actions.

They have a strong need for fun and excitement.

They can be dramatic, self-promoting and attention-seeking.

They are often looking for a lifestyle organised around good food, good drink and

entertainment.

There is much more to the study of Taylor and Meyer (2009), and we might look at more of

their results later on. For now, let us go back to the discussion on variables.

Variables are usually identified by the letters X or Y. Sometimes

you will be working with two or more variables, like X and Y.

2.3

1.

Study the section Variables and constants on pages 9 to 13 in Tredoux and Durrheim

(2013). Take a look at the definitions below, and then insert the right term from the

following list in each definition:

Concepts

variables

constants

discrete variable

continuous variable

independent variable

dependent variable

46

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

Definitions

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

2.

1.

The point to remember is that variables can assume different values, depending on what

experiment the researcher is conducting.

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

2.

Properties of observations that can assume different values are called ...

A variable that can assume any value is a ...

The variable which is being measured (data or scores) is a ...

A variable which can assume a limited number of values is a ...

A quantity that does not change and always has the same value is a ...

independent variable

variables

continuous variable

dependent variable

discrete variable

constant

You should have no difficulty with (a), (c) and (d), which are a discrete variable, constant

and discrete variable respectively. In the case of (b), we will probably have conceded

that with a sufficiently accurate measure, the weight of the moon will vary continuously

over time. In the case of (e), the number of judges will be a discrete constant for a period

of time (until another is appointed, or resigns, or dies etc).

Measurement scales

The data that you will be collecting as an industrial psychologist in an organisation whether

they are performance evaluation results, absentee scores or data of any other kind can be

classified into one of four types of measurement scale. These scales are dealt with on pages

11 to 12 in Tredoux and Durrheim (2013) and you need to know them well. The four scales

are nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio scales.

Below we deal in detail with the properties that enable you to distinguish between

measurement scales. This, together with the section on pages 11 to 12 in Tredoux and

Durrheim (2013), should provide a useful framework for distinguishing between the four

measurement scales.

47

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

Magnitude

Magnitude is the property of moreness. A scale has the property of magnitude if we can say

that one attribute is more than, less than or equal to another attribute (McCall 1986).

Height, which is an example of the ratio scale, does have the property of magnitude. We can

say that one person is taller or shorter than another, but we cannot say that a soccer player

or a rugby player whose jersey displays a higher number on the back is more important or

does more work than a player with a lower number. The numbers on players sportswear are

examples of a nominal scale the only scale that does not possess the property of

magnitude.

Equal intervals

A scale possesses the property of equal intervals if the difference between all points on that

scale is uniform.

If we take the example of length, this would mean that the difference between 6 and 8

centimetres on a ruler is the same as the difference between 10 and 12 centimetres. In both

instances the difference is exactly 2 centimetres. Psychological measurement scales that

represent the interval scale also have equal intervals. Consider the following example:

Disagree totally

1

Disagree

2

Unsure

3

Agree

4

Agree totally

5

In all instances the interval between scores is exactly one. Nominal and ordinal scales do not

possess the property of equal intervals.

Absolute 0

Absolute 0 is obtained when there is absolutely nothing of the attribute being measured. If we

take the example of length again, 0 centimetres means that there is no distance. So length

possesses the property of absolute 0. By the same token, if one is measuring wind velocity

and one gets a 0 reading, one would say that there is no wind blowing at all.

In the case of many human attributes it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to define an

absolute zero point. For example, if we measure arithmetical ability on a scale of 0 to 10, we

could hardly say that a 0 score means that the person has no arithmetical aptitude at all.

There could be a level of aptitude that the particular scale does not measure, or there could

be no such thing as 0 aptitude (Kaplan, 1987). In the case of temperature, an example of the

interval scale, we cannot say that 0C means no temperature at all.

The ratio scale is the only scale to possess this property.

48

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

2.4

1.

On the basis of the information given above, determine which scale possesses which

property (or properties). Then complete the following synoptic table by writing Yes or

No in the relevant spaces.

Measurement scales and their properties

Property

Type of scale

Magnitude

Equal interval

Absolute 0

Nominal

Ordinal

Interval

Ratio

2.

2.1

2.2

You want to determine if the years of education of contestants in New Stars (e.g.

matric, undergraduate degree, postgraduate degree) influence their ratings of

popularity by viewers.

Is there a relationship between the time that viewers spend watching New Stars

and their income?

x

x

x

Write down the name of the measurement scale applicable to the variables

that are identified in the two definitions and reflect it in the correct column in

the table.

Determine whether this variable represents the dependent or the independent

variable in the definition and delete the incorrect alternative in the table.

Also determine whether this variable is continuous or discrete and again

delete the incorrect alternative in the table.

Years of

education

Popularity

rating

Viewing hours

Income

Measurement

scale

Dependent/

independent

Dependent/

independent

Dependent/

independent

Dependent/

independent

Dependent/

independent

Discrete/

continuous

Discrete/

continuous

Discrete/

continuous

Discrete/

continuous

Discrete/

continuous

49

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

3.

1.

Property

Type of scale

2.

3.

Magnitude

Equal interval

Absolute 0

Nominal

No

No

No

Ordinal

Yes

No

No

Interval

Yes

Yes

No

Ratio

Yes

Yes

Yes

Years of

education

Popularity

rating

Viewing

hours

Income

Measurement

scale

Nominal

Interval

Interval

Ratio

Dependent/

Independent

Independent

Dependent

Independent

Dependent

Discrete/

Continuous

Discrete

Continuous

Continuous

Continuous

Dependent variable

(criterion)

General happiness

(c) Married/unmarried

Suicide rate

Can you see why it is not necessary to express red wine consumption in terms of a perpopulation index?

Notice how it is possible to conceptualise a difference between two groups (those who have

pets and those who dont) in terms of dependent and independent variables, as well as the

relationship between two continuous variables.

50

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

When we are working with statistics we use various terms. When it comes to the groups

about which we are collecting information, we distinguish between a population and a

sample. We also distinguish between numerical values summarising population data and

numerical values summarising sample data, which we refer to as parameters and statistics

respectively.

2.5

Read the section Populations, samples, statistics and parameters on pages 13 to 15 in

Tredoux and Durrheim (2013). Study the parts where terms are explained and make sure you

understand each term so well that you are able to explain it in your own words to somebody

who does not know that term. Below is a list of important terms. In your own words, describe

the meaning of each term and give an example of each from the New Stars show in the

space provided.

Term

Description

Example

Population

Sample

Parameter

Statistic

See if your answers broadly correspond with the information provided in the table below. Your

own descriptions should contain at least the italicised terms.

51

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

Term

Description

Example

Population

interests you

Sample

forming a subset of the

population

to New Stars

Parameter

population data

to New Stars

Statistic

sample data

randomly selected applicants to

New Stars

2.6

Do Activity 1.7 on page 14 in Tredoux and Durrheim (2013).

The difficulty with all these questions lies in being clear on what the population of interest is.

Thus, if we decide that the population of interest in all three questions is the entire cohort of

learners in South Africa writing the matriculation examination in that particular year, only (a)

qualifies as a parameter. However, if we decide that for (b) we are only interested in the

population of Platbakkies High School learners, then the average History score referred to

there would be a parameter. A similar case can be made for (c) it is meaningful to refer to

the population of Platbakkies High School learners in a particular area on Clifton 4th beach

on 1 January 2001, even though most people might find that particular collection of people

uninteresting as a population!

Random sampling

The section on Samples, populations, statistics and parameters in Tredoux and Durrheim

(2013) explains random sampling and statistical inference. A random sample implies that

every member of a population stands an equal chance of being chosen for a study,

experiment or research project. This is the only valid or acceptable way to generalise sample

results to the population. The act of generalising from sample data to populations is called

statistical inference and is the central goal of statistical methods.

You should now have some idea of what this module in Industrial Psychological Research is

about. To make sure that you have absorbed the most important information in this learning

unit, check through the list given in the next activity.

52

IOP2601/MO001/4/2016

2.7

Go through the following list and tick the terms or concepts that you are sure you can define,

distinguish from others and provide your own examples of.

Terms

Define

Distinguish

between

Example

descriptive statistics

versus

inferential statistics

continuous variable

versus

discrete variable

independent variable

versus

dependent variable

population

versus

sample

parameters

versus

statistics

x

x

x

x

define a variable

distinguish between descriptive and inferential statistics

distinguish between the four measurement scales and

give an example of each

define and distinguish between discrete and continuous

variables, dependent and independent variables,

samples and populations and statistics and parameters.

You should also be able to give an example of each.

Now you are ready to learn the various skills and techniques in the learning units that follow.

53

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